The beautifully subtle, yet dramatic, documentary ​Stories We Tell​, presents a family all

Howell 1

Meg Howell

Ms. Jane Taylor

English 2201

4 September 2018

Summary Analysis Response Essay #1

The beautifully subtle, yet dramatic, documentary ​Stories We Tell​, presents a family all

linked to one Canadian actress, Diane Polley. Her daughter, Sarah Polley, goes on a

heartwarming and tragic mission to find out the truth about their family. As time goes on, the

story begins to change from person to person, leading to excavations of secrets long hidden. This

process includes many emotionally vulnerable interviews with friends and family, immense

amounts of research, and confrontation with opposing stories. Sarah is left in what must be an

extremely exhausting position, her mind filled with new information that goes against everything

she has ever known. Although part of her world must be completely changed, Sarah maintains

her curiosity and insatiable attitude, and delves into a past previously foreign to her. The journey

is one filled with sadness and grief, but also shows an unbreakable bond between a family that

has truly seen it all.

Throughout the film, a constant theme of the importance of family can be seen. Although

Sarah’s biological father is not who the man she had spent her whole life with, she still holds a

connection to both of them. The flashbacks make for a documentary with a non-linear style, and

provide more than enough background information to set up the plot. With all that happens in the

storyline (death, adultery, loss of children, etc.), ​Stories We Tell​ seems to be almost built to make

those watching it cry. Unless one has a strong emotional wall built up, this film tugs at every

Howell 2

string of the heart. When all is said and done, it seems that Sarah’s goal was to show just how

much stories can vary (even in just one family) and how important they are all. She most

definitely did this, even going above and beyond in her research to show the raw truths of her

mother’s life.

Being the inquisitive person that I am, I relate to this Sarah’s character/personality quite a

bit. She has a desire for honesty and she works hard to find it, as do I with my journalistic

endeavors. In terms of the film as a whole, the emotionality of it is something that can also be

seen in my life. I prefer truth, no matter how much it may hurt me. It is almost as if being overly

emotional is what keeps me going. Unlike Sarah, the stories in my life are not quite as interesting

or profound. There are no hidden baby daddies, and there are no actors. Of course, I guess that is

the point of it all. We all have different stories, and they all matter. This movie has drastically

changed my perception on the art of storytelling, and I will never be able to look at it the same

way again.